Boy Scouts Vote to End Ban on Gay Scouts; Gay Adults Still Barred


John Stemberger founder of, a group of former Scouts, leaders and parents who oppose lifting the ban, said the organization worried less about sexual identity than gay activism.

"Our policy says we don't discriminate against sexual orientation," he said. "There has never been a witch hunt to find people. Scouts is about camping, tying knots and building fires.

"We don't want to see a sex and politics effect," he said. "Gay Scouts have been in the program for many years. They are kicked out because they engage in behavior and conduct that is distracting to Scouting."

Groups on all sides of the issue descended on the Gaylord Hotel this week where delegates met, hoping to sway the vote.

Stemberger said his group's attempts to distribute buttons and 1,000 copies of a newspaper ad in the Dallas Morning News to delegates were thwarted by the Boy Scouts security guards who asked them to leave the hotel property.

The group had hoped to counter Boy Scouts of America President Wayne Perry's op-ed piece in USA Today urging the delegates to allow gay youth to be part of Scouting.

Stemberger criticized the Boy Scouts for not providing his group with the delegate list and called the vote a "very closed process."

"The Scouts are supposed to respect other opinions," said Stemberger, a Scoutmaster. "There should have been a robust debate and an education process, not a sales job."

The secret-ballot decision came as public opinion has dramatically shifted on the issue of gay rights. According to a recent recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, 63 percent of Americans favor admitting gay Scouts, and 56 percent oppose banning gay Scout leaders.

Several prominent CEOs, including Ernst & Young's James S. Turley and AT&T's Randall Stephenson, both of whom sit on the national board, have openly pushed for an end to the ban on both Scouts and leaders.

Last year, the controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" military policy was ended. Same-sex marriage is now legal in 12 states and the District of Columbia. At least a half dozen other states are considering legislative action.

The Supreme Court is currently considering repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and a challenge to the California ban on same-sex marriage, known as Proposition 8.

There's evidence the gay ban has hurt the organization. Membership rolls have dropped in three of the four regions overall nationally, according to a source within the Boy Scouts of America who works in recruitment and writes under the pseudonym Andrew Johnson.

He said that paperwork from the national organization showed a 58 percent drop in membership between 1972 and 2012.

In an editorial in Time magazine this week, writing under his pseudonym, he described himself as a "full-time paid professional employee of the Boy Scouts of America," who had dedicated his life to Scouting, starting as a young boy and later attaining Eagle Scout. He has now worked for the organization for five years.

He said he and many other gay Scouts "live with apprehension, hiding our personal lives and not knowing if we could be outed and fired at any moment."

He told today that he is "heartened" to know the Boy Scouts is "on its way toward becoming a more welcoming, inclusive organization that allows viewpoints from people of all faiths."

"Councils, especially in the Northeast region will continue calling for full equality of Scouts and adults," said Johnson. "By voting to allow all boys to join Scouting today, the organization has positioned itself to allow adult leaders in the future."

But he also added that he will consider quitting his job in the next few weeks because of the decision not to lift the ban on older Scouts, leaders and employees.

Meanwhile, lesbian mom Jennifer Tyrrell said that despite the incremental success, she would not be letting her son Cruz go back to Scouting.

"I would not feel comfortable," she said. "I will keep him out until everyone is equal. With the current proposal, it sends the message to [same-sex] families that they are not normal. I don't want him around that message."

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